Monday Mailbag

Jonathan Branch tackles your questions in a jam-packed final mailbag of the spring.

Spring practice has wrapped up, so we decided to put together a final mailbag of the spring to give readers one more opportunity to get a feel for where things stand in Georgia football, recruiting and other goings-on in the athletic department.

Thankfully, our readers did not disappoint. We've got plenty of questions to get to this week, so let's get after it.

Sicemdawgs77 leads off: Sony Michel's mind is made up. Do we get him? Were you recently tested for synthetic marijuana?

All indications point to Georgia being in better-than-good shape for Michel's commitment. If that happens, the Bulldogs would have a huge get for 2014 and perhaps start some recruiting momentum for this year's class.

As for the test for synthetic marijuana, or "spice," I have not been tested but it is on the DawgPost banned substance list. Diet Coke, however, is not.

Hpdog asks: Not hearing much about Pyke or Debell. Do they have any chance of contributing this year?

As of now, no. Georgia has numbers on the offensive line, and that may keep Greg Pyke and Zach DeBell from significant playing time this season. As Georgia has learned—this spring, for instance—second team offensive linemen are always an injury away. But currently, Pyke and DeBell find themselves on the outside looking in at the top backup spots.

Jca239 writes: I did not get to see much of the G-day game, so...what did we learn from the game. The good. The bad. The ugly.

The Good: Georgia appeared to survive the game without any significant injuries. John Atkins left the game on crutches and continues walking with a limp, but he has plenty of time to overcome it. The Bulldogs also didn't overextend tailbacks Todd Gurley (four carries) or Keith Marshall (six carries), despite limited depth at the position. JUCO transfer Jonathon Rumph had an impressive performance—4 catches, 98 yards, two touchdowns.

The Bad: Georgia's offensive line. The two teams allowed a combined nine sacks, and six of those came against the "No. 1" unit wearing red. Offensive line coach Will Friend has mixed and matched his offensive line, partly due to injuries, this spring, but the group flat out didn't perform well in G-Day. And that's understanding that "sacks" in a spring game deserve asterisks (*)—defenders simply need to touch the quarterback to warrant the sack. The lines also did not run-block well. The Red team's tailbacks managed just 58 yards on 18 carries.

The Ugly: Christian LeMay's statline. The rising redshirt sophomore turned in a disappointing performance in his third G-Day game. LeMay failed to complete a pass in six attempts unless you count his final pass of the day, which was picked off by Connor Norman and returned for 22-yards. The interception thwarted the Red team's shot at a comeback after the Black team's game-winning touchdown on the previous series.

PayneHall writes: Jon, let's talk corners. I get that #5 has one job nailed down. Dawson seemed to have the other under control until the hamstring pull. I was greatly impressed with Wilkerson at G-Day. He consistently had tight coverage though victimized on a couple of occasions by a couple of wily old veterans, Murray and McGowan. Where do you see Devin Bowman at present? Shaq Wiggins and Langley look like they may surely have some playing time opportunities. Care to predict how this will shake out?

Payne, you're spot on regarding Damian Swann. He's a guaranteed starter and a budding star at his position; he should do big things for that defense in 2013. Dawson is another to keep tabs on, though. Prior to his hamstring injury this spring (which shouldn't keep him out for very long), he had been one of the most impressive players in practice. He has made a solid case for the starting spot opposite Swann.

Devin Bowman is a curious case. He received playing time last season during the suspensions of Bacarri Rambo and Sanders Commings, but was not able to earn much more playing time thereafter. With Commings gone, it appeared Bowman could have a shot at a starting position, and that still may be the case but not without competition from newcomers.

Reggie Wilkerson is one of those newcomers. He turned a few heads this spring with two interceptions in scrimmages and a sack in the G-Day game. Shaquille Wiggins and Brendan Langley will also have an opportunity to see the field, and both have the ability to contribute as freshman.

When all is said and done, I'd venture to guess that Sheldon Dawson and Damian Swann will lock down starting spots at cornerback in the base package. The nickel position could be a revolving door—especially if the Bulldogs use Josh Harvey-Clemons in that role. But in absolute passing situations, the third/nickel corner could be Langley, Wilkerson or Bowman. At least, that's what I'd predict four months out.

SWGADAWG writes: I would love a little info on my Colquitt Co. boys – Xzavier Ward, Ty Flournoy-Smith and Preston Mobley. Thanks.

Ward has a good chance at playing time in fall. He has drawn praise from Coach Friend this spring, and he worked at right tackle with the No. 1 unit as the spring came to an end. If he can carry that momentum into the spring and continue to add strength and mass in his lower body, he could crack the lineup in 2013.

Flournoy-Smith, in tight end coach John Lilly's words, must be "impatiently patient." What Lilly means by that is Flournoy-Smith needs to work to earn playing time, but not get down on himself because he's behind two established players at his position. According to Lilly, the next four to five months are crucial for Flournoy-Smith, as he has really started figuring out "what (coaches) want done" but now must learn "how (they) want it done."

Mobley is in a different situation. He appears to be the No. 3 center right now behind David Andrews and Hunter Long, respectively. Chris Burnette may get a look at center, too, when he returns from injury, and Josh Cardiello may likely slide over from guard (where he worked this spring) when the fall rolls around. If that happens, there will be a log-jam at his position, and if Boss Andrews stays healthy, playing time will be hard to come by for anyone not wearing No. 61.

Camcat81 asks: Wondering about the Camden Co. boys Brice Ramsey and J.J. Green. Did they have much playing time in the game?

They each got playing time during the G-Day game.

Green got plenty of reps at tailback for the Red team—an advantage of playing with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, each of whom were given a limited amount of carries. Green finished with eight carries for 27 yards and three catches for 12 yards.

Ramsey was on the same roster as Aaron Murray and Christian LeMay, but he was still able to see a couple of series. He completed one of his three pass attempts for 22 yards. Ramsey has plenty of time to grow into his own as an SEC-caliber quarterback, and nothing thus far should warrant any worry that he'll fail to live up to expectations.

PayneHall returns with some mo': Noting the paucity of questions for this mailbag, I will be greedy and ask another. Does the following OL seem possible at this point for Clemson?

LT: Xzavier Ward LG: Kenarious Gates C: David Andrews RG: Chris Burnette RT: John Theus

Couple of notes: I actually like Austin Long better as a drive blocker at right guard, Burnette for his pass blocking, but I doubt Burnette would be replaced as a starter at this point. Austin will play. Lee can back up Andrews and Gates. Theus might potentially be the best left tackle on the team, but Ward gets a lot of praise for his pass blocking abilities, rather than his run blocking, so he would be better served as a left tackle, protecting the Murray/Long collective back until his run blocking improves. What do you say?

Payne, if Gordon Gecko taught me anything, it's that greed is good. The more questions the better. Now, on to the million-dollar answer...

Yes, that is a plausible offensive line combo. I'm not sure Ward would be at left tackle, though. It's true that his pass-blocking is better than his run-blocking, but right now, he is best-suited for right tackle. Theus, however, has taken reps at left tackle this spring, so Ward and Theus would likely be swapped in your lineup.

Gates is certainly better as a guard than a tackle, but Dallas Lee's play this spring hasn't warranted a changing of the guard (pun intended). Burnette will most likely have his right guard spot in-hand when he returns from injury. Austin Long is also one to watch, as he was making strides before breaking his hand during practice. Watts Dantzler could also get playing time at guard.

Georgia has so many offensive linemen with playing time under their belt that pinpointing starters for 2013 can be difficult. The position may be the deepest on the roster aside from wide receiver, but finding the combination of the best five will be the challenge for Coach Friend heading into the opener at Clemson.

BigBandMan asks: JB --- As luck would have it my bowling team has 4 avid basketball fans including myself --- One is a Louisville fan, The second is a Michigan fan, The third (our only female member) is for the team with the best legs and shortest shorts, and then there is me who is diehard Georgia --- Question 1 --- How do I respond when Mr. Louisville yells he is number 1 and Mr. Michigan yells he is Number 2; Do I meekly say something about being number 147 ? --- Question 2 --- How long will UGA remain committed to being a mediocre basketball program?

BigBand, you may need to avoid basketball conversation at the lanes for a while or find a new bowling team. But if you're going to mention Georgia, do it with pride. Maybe make a t-shirt with No. 147 on it and the 2012 schedule with results? I say, if you're gonna go, go big. Or you could always just pull one of these...

As for Q2, that's a question I've wondered a little myself. Changes are needed. There's no doubt about that. But in what form? Tony Parker isn't transferring anymore, so that dream is gone. Georgia is still struggling to recruit, and the entire 2013-14 season may very well sink or swim with Kentavious Caldwell Pope's pending decision to turn pro or remain in school.

If Mark Fox and Co. fail to make an NCAA tournament appearance next season, then wholesale changes would seem inevitable.

Dangerranger6969 asks three questions: 1) Will UGA ever get an indoor football practice facility?

No, and quite frankly, I don't necessarily know that it needs one. Based on last season and this spring, it may have been used for maybe eight to twelve practices. Tennessee recently spent a reported $45 million on its new practice facility.. Seems like a bit much for just a few practices a season, right?

The facility arms race that has taken place in college football over the last two years doesn't change much, if any, about the play on the field. It's a way to make your program sound sexier than others for recruiting purposes, but at the end of the day, how many recruits choose a school for its indoor practice facility?

2) Will UGA ever get a new basketball arena?

Not in the foreseeable future. Stegeman Coliseum just got a facelift a few years ago, and in all honesty, it isn't a bad venue for a basketball game. It's old. There's no denying that, but that doesn't make it a bad arena. The problem has been more of the product on the floor, not the area around it.

3) Will UGA mirror what Nick Saban is doing at Alabama as far as the recruiting personnel is concerned (10 extra personnel)?

No, not at all. Based on my understanding, coaches are still the real recruiters. Daryl Jones and his small group of assistants do a nice job of handling all on-campus visits, but at the end of the day, it's the coaches' connection with players that matter most. How Alabama employs (and actually utilizes) that many extra personnel is staggering and impressive at the same time. Since the proposed recruiting rule that would've allowed for more recruiting personnel was shot down, the number of people that are allowed to recruit remains the same as it was, so no, I do not see Georgia adding staff to help with that department.

Graydog writes: Go out on a limb for us if it is what you believe. We all know Jon Taylor has a ways to go more than likely technique wise, but to me he looks like he could be a MAN child in college football, a Man among boys. He has that potential.

What is your opinion on Jonathan Taylor? Another Fairley, Suh, McCoy, Dorsey, to name a few in recent years that dominated college football on the line of scrimmage. I think we have us something special here.

For the most part, I agree with you. From what I've been allowed to see and the conversations I've had with coaches and players, Taylor could be a special talent for Georgia before his time is over. He has the makings to be a starter in some capacity in 2013, as a mere redshirt freshman.

He's strong as an ox, but since working at end this spring, he's shown quickness and mobility unlike most 6-foot-4, 335-pounders. He's shown potential to be a disruptor in the trenches, and fans should keep an eye on his progress. I'm not nearly ready to put him in the class with some of the college greats that you mentioned, but he could be a solid contributor in the very near future.

GEORGIAN writes: J.B., when UGA gets a new President ,in the next year or so, do you think that there will be any changes regarding the Athletic Program. I think that many of us believe that we haven't been as well represented, as we would like to be, by the current administration.

Jere Morehead was named Michael Adam's successor in early February. Since 2009, Morehead has served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. A graduate of Georgia's School of Law, Morehead has worked for the university since the late 1980s, so he understands the nature that athletics play in the institution. It's tough to predict what changes Morehead could make, if any.

Berlusconi writes: JB, how are the cheerleaders looking this year?

Clown question, bro.

The answer: beautiful, as always. Would you expect any less? The SEC dominates in this department, as well.

With that, the party is over. Last one out, turn off the lights.

Thanks for all your questions. Hope you all enjoyed.

And remember: Only 4 and a half months till kickoff.

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